Dutch war cemetery daubed with swastika
A large swastika has been daubed on a British and Commonwealth Second World War cemetery in the Netherlands.
The Mierlo cemetery near Eindhoven in the south of the country was covered in graffiti, including allegations about the downing of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) said the site was also damaged days earlier.
Prince Charles, as colonel-in-chief of the Parachute Regiment, is due to attend a Dutch commemoration of the 1944 Battle of Arnhem later this month (see below).
Mierlo has the graves of 664 British and Commonwealth personnel and one Dutch soldier.
Some of the graffiti says “MH17 lie”, in reference to the shooting down by a Russian-made Buk missile of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July 2014, which killed all 298 people on board, including 193 Dutch citizens.
The CWGC said: “It is distressing to see the damage on the headstones themselves, behind every one of those war graves is a human story of someone who gave their life while in service”.
A Dutch Omroep Brabant reporter said: “It’s not just a bit of daubing here, no, they’ve daubed everywhere.
“There’s a letter daubed on nearly every headstone. Unbelievable.”
The Battle of Arnhem
In September 1944, after victory in Normandy, Britain’s Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery devised an operation to open a route to the Ruhr by seizing a bridge on the Rhine at Arnhem.
On September 17, Operation Market, the largest airborne and glider operation in history used 5,000 aircraft to carry three Allied airborne divisions.
Operation Garden was the deployment of ground troops to link up with the paratroopers at Arnhem by pushing north. The idea was to then assault the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, and potentially expose a route to Berlin.
The airborne landings (pictured) were successful but Allied intelligence failed to heed Dutch underground reports that a German tank corps was deployed near the town.
Only the Second Parachute Battalion reached the key Arnhem bridge over the Rhine.
Most of the airborne division was soon engaged by the German tank corps around Arnhem.
Congestion and German defence along the narrow road to Nijmegen and Arnhem delayed the British ground advance.
The army failed to relieve Arnhem although paratroopers led by Lieutenant Colonel John Frost (played by Anthony Hopkins in the film, A Bridge Too Far) held the northern end of the Arnhem bridge against the Ninth SS Tank Division for four days before they were overrun.
Of the 10,000 men who were dropped behind enemy lines at Arnhem, 1,400 were killed and more than 6,000 captured. About 2,400 paratroopers managed to cross to the south bank of the Rhine in rubber boats.
The ground forces were unable to cross the River Waal at Nijmegen in time to reach the Rhine to the north.
Operation Market Garden was an Allied disaster. Picture credit: Wikimedia